Westerville World Wide club provides education through international travel

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Westerville students (from left) Olivia Stacey, Keely Leach, Kayley Covert, Reina Hershner, Michaela Fitzgerald and Josephine Stumpf visit Loch Katrine in the Trossachs National Park near Stirling, Scotland, in June 2019.

Westerville’s three high schools have partnered to create Westerville World Wide, a new districtwide travel club devoted to changing students’ lives through educational travel.

Stephanie Matushoneck, Westerville World Wide group leader from Central High School, said groups from the high schools have partnered with educational travel company EF Educational Tours for nearly a decade to promote the benefits of international travel and provide global travel opportunities for district students.

“This year, the three high schools have banded together to create Westerville World Wide,” she said. “We are travel junkies, and since (COVID-19), we need something to look forward to.”

When students travel, Matushoneck said, they expand their knowledge of the world around them, discover more about themselves, become more confident and independent and understand new people, places and cultures. 

She said this past summer was the first she hasn’t traveled since 2014.

Matushoneck said her last trip with students was in Scotland and Ireland in June 2019.  

“It was so beautiful,” she said. “We went into the Highlands of Scotland, as well as took a boat ride on Loch Ness. While in Ireland, we went to the Titanic museum in Belfast, as well as learned about the conflict between the British government and the IRA (Irish Republican Army).” 

Lillian Malone, a Westerville South junior, said she most recently traveled to Europe with the travel club at her school. 

Lillian Malone, 16, a Westerville South High School junior, visited the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Munich, Bavaria, in Germany with the high school's travel club.

“This was a two-week trip that included a leadership summit at the end,” she said. 

Her group traveled through Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. 

“I have a huge passion for travel and experiencing new things,” Malone said.  “I have been to 10 countries so far, some of them with school and some with my parents on family trips. We had plans to travel to Morocco before coronavirus hit, and I am signed up for the trip to China the travel club at my school is doing this summer.”

Malone said traveling has opened her eyes to so many cultures and ideas that she never would have seen had she stayed put. 

“I am extremely lucky to have so many opportunities to travel, and I don’t take any of them for granted,” she said. 

Sarina Motts, a Capital University freshman, said she traveled to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands through the EF travel program when she was a sophomore at Central. 

“Traveling to another country changed me,” she said. “I got to see how people my age have completely different lives. I was able to be more thankful for what I have. I also got to see different cultures, and it fascinated me.”

Matushoneck said she had planned to visit Greece in June, but her trip has been postponed to late June 2021.  

“On June 7, we are scheduled for a STEM trip – Health Sciences in Great Britain – that we have dubbed Murder, Magic and Medicine,” she said. 

Group leader Lisa Baughman at South is planning a spring-break trip to four cities in Europe (London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam); group leader Damon Mollenkopf at North High School is leading a trip to Eastern Europe; and Becky Rollo (Central staff member) will be off to Costa Rica in the spring.

Matushoneck said the trip everyone is most excited about is “World War II in 2022.”

She said all three high schools will travel together on a 14-day tour of the Western Front, including London, Paris, Berlin, Munich and the D-Day beaches. 

“Becky Rollo is leading high schoolers to Belize and middle schoolers to the Dominican Republic for a marine-biology service-learning tour in 2022, as well,” she said.   

Current eighth-graders may enroll for next year’s tours. 

Contacts at each of the high schools are Baughman, baughmaL@wcsoh.org, at Westerville South; Matushoneck, matushos@wcsoh.org, at Central; and Mollenkopf, mollenkd@wcsoh.org, at North. 

For more information, check out the new website at westervilleworldwide.com.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla